Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin issued a 30-day stay of execution Thursday for a death-row inmate who had been scheduled to die next week for the 1986 murder of the mother of his two children.
Fallin, a Republican, issued the stay for 55-year-old Garry Thomas Allen to give her legal team more time to consider a 2005 recommendation by the state Pardon and Parole Board to commute his sentence to life in prison without parole.
Allen's attorneys have argued that he was mentally impaired when he killed 42-year-old Lawanna Gail Titsworth on Nov. 21, 1986, in Oklahoma City. They say he had been self-medicating for an underlying mental illness, and that his mental condition has only gotten worse. A police officer shot Allen in the face during a struggle after Allen shot his wife.
Allen's current lawyer, Randy Bauman, declined to comment on the stay, but in a letter to the governor urged her to consider sparing his life.
"The state of Oklahoma should not execute this mentally ill and remorseful man," Bauman wrote.
The board voted 4-1 in 2005 to recommend commuting Allen's sentence to life. But before the governor at the time, Brad Henry, had a chance to act on the board's recommendation, a Pittsburg County judge issued a stay after a prison psychological exam determined Allen had developed mental problems on death row. The doctor's report noted Allen had dementia caused by seizures, drug abuse and his gunshot wound.
A 12-member jury was impaneled in 2008 to determine Allen's sanity. Jurors rejected Allen's argument that he should not be put to death and decided he was sane enough to be executed.
Allen appealed, but the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals in December concluded there is no procedure to appeal a finding that a person facing execution is sane.
Allen's attorneys on Wednesday asked the state Pardon and Parole Board for a second clemency hearing, but the board's general counsel said Allen had no legal right to a second hearing.
"There is no precedent for this," attorney Tracy George told the board. "This is a unique situation."
Board Chairman Richard Dugger, who was among those who recommended clemency for Allen in 2005, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.
Allen entered a blind plea of guilty and was sentenced to die for shooting Titsworth in the parking lot of an Oklahoma City daycare center just days after she had moved out of the home she shared with Allen and their two sons, court records show.
Court documents indicated the two were arguing when Allen reached into his sock, pulled out a revolver and shot Titsworth twice in the chest. Titsworth ran with a center employee toward the building, but Allen pushed the worker away, shoved Titsworth down some steps and shot her twice in the back at close range, records show.
A police officer responding to a 911 call tussled with Allen before shooting him in the face, according to court documents. Allen was hospitalized for about two months for treatment of injuries to his face, left eye and brain.
Sean Murphy can be reached at www.twitter.com/apseanmurphy